The Washington Capitals now have nine wins in a row, a bunch of guys hurt, and a winning attitude. Justin Williams said it best: “We’re just going about our business, and our business right now is winning.” (CSN) They played against a physical team and a goalie who must have been channeling Holtby because it was darn near impossible to get past him.
Warmups started with the disappointing realization that defenseman John Carlson would not skate tonight despite our hopes. Michael Latta also scratched and remains day-to-day. Zach Sill made his first NHL appearance this season—in for Latta.
The big twitter buzz was all about Alex Ovechkin who got an end-of-the year trim. The team was sporting their fashionable third jersey tonight.
First Period: The Johnson Period
Braden Holtby was in the net for the Caps and Chad Johnson for the Sabres. Ovechkin was called for roughing at 19.33 (.27) and the Sabres were on a powerplay. On a rush to the net, Jack Eichel passes one over to Brian Gionta to score first. 0-1 Sabres. Caps on the powerplay (PP) after a hardhit and trip by Tyler Ennis against Marcus Johansson. Goalie Chad Johnson had three good saves which prevented the Caps from scoring on the opportunity. And then the scuffle broke out: Tom Wilson taking on Sabres Captain Gionta. Tom Wilson gets a double minor and Zach Bogosian two-minutes for roughing. Caps on the penalty kill (PK) again. No score. Period ends 0-1 Sabres
Second Period: The Injury Period
The period started with an Ovi chance that failed to connect with the net. Eichel remained hot in the second period, keeping the defense on guard. The Caps went on the PP when Johan Larsson hooks Evgeny Kuznetsov. The crowd brought some energy to the play but the players couldn’t break through Johnson’s wall.
And then at 5:52 Justin Williams caught Johnson off guard and bam—we’re all tied up’ Tyler Ennis went down the tunnel after a hit by Ovi and then Beagle would leave after a “whack” from the Sabres. Sabres would take the lead before the end of the third with a wrist shot by by Zemgus Girgensons. 1-2 Sabres at the end of the period.
Third Period: The Penalty Period
After a brief delay the third period began without Jay Beagle who “sustained and upper body injury” (Caps PR). Ovechkin tied it up at 18:36 with one heck of a backhand shot off Kuzy and Oshie. Six more goals to 500! 2-2 now. Nicky Backstrom went off the ice as well with Sill stepping up to the first line. Marcus Johansson to the box for boarding despite the complaints of the fans. In the midst of the PK, Wilson was tripped by Kane and the Caps get a bit of a PP. And then Ovi gets called for two minutes on a high stick. And one more penalty—again on Kane for hooking Ovi just as he comes out of the box. As Mike Vogel said it was a regular whistle fest.
Finally at 1128 Mojo would break past all the nonsense and score one off a sneaky pass from Kuzy and Matt Niskanen. Kane looking none too happy as he exits the box!
Things got even better at the 10.04 mark as Andre Burakovsky finishes off sweet pass from Marcus. 4-2 Caps. Buffalo pulls their goalie and Ovi takes advantage of the empty net at 1:13 for one more goal. Now it’s 5 to 500 for the GR8! Game ends 5-2 CAPS CAPS CAPS
The team has begun to join the ranks of teams with injured players. Michael Latta hopes to be back on the ice playing against the Carolina Hurricanes. No word on Carlson, Backstorm, or Beags. Despite losing all these players at once, the team came together and played like the winners they are. We hardly noticed the missing players which is something we haven’t seen with the Caps in a very long time.
And a salute to our military. Thank you for your service.
Now on to Raleigh…and we’ re
all smiling with Nate!